Bill O'Brien, who is running for Senate in New Hampshire, also said we 'don't have to assume that there's a catastrophe' when it comes to climate issues.
Bill O'Brien, a Republican Senate candidate in New Hampshire, suggested Monday night that progressives only care about climate change because of the collapse of communism in the 1980s.
"Did it surprise anyone that climate change became an issue just about the time of the fall of communism? The left needed an organizing principle and that became it," O'Brien claimed at a meeting of Washington Valley Republicans.
He then accused climate scientists of altering environmental data to fit preexisting conclusions.
"Some of these [climate change] models don't even predict the past. You have to change the past to accommodate these models," he said.
O'Brien, the former speaker of the New Hampshire House, also claimed without proof that scientists were "monkeying around with the data," downplaying the climate change crisis and saying "we don't have to assume that there's a catastrophe."
His comments came one day after U.S. agencies reported the past decade was the hottest in recorded history.
Video of O'Brien's remarks was obtained by American Bridge, a progressive opposition research group.
The O'Brien campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Josh Marcus-Blank, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, responded to those remarks on Tuesday, comparing O'Brien's stance to that of the Trump administration, which has largely downplayed the threat of climate change and even rejected its own advisers' scientific conclusions on the matter.
"Just like Donald Trump, Bill O'Brien is denying climate change and ignoring basic science," he said in an email. "In the Senate, he would be an automatic vote against policies to address climate change, just like he was as Speaker of the New Hampshire House."
United Nations scientists have warned that urgent action to combat climate change is critical.
"We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020," Inger Andersen, head of the U.N. Environment Program, said in November. "We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated."
A 2018 climate report released by 13 U.S. agencies also found climate change will cause catastrophic damage to the United States if not addressed urgently.
"Flooding from rising sea levels and storms is likely to destroy, or make unsuitable for use, billions of dollars of property by the middle of this century, with the Atlantic and Gulf coasts facing greater-than-average risk compared to other regions of the country," the report stated.
Australia has also experienced a swath of devastating wildfires over the past six months, some of the worst the country has seen in decades.
Those fires are "the iconic representation of climate change impacts," Chris Field, the Stanford University environmental studies director who chaired an international scientific report on climate change and extreme events, told the Associated Press earlier this month.
O'Brien is running in a Republican primary, hoping to take on the state's incumbent senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.
Election experts with Sabato's Crystal Ball recently changed their New Hampshire prediction of the race in favor of Shaheen, from "Leans Democratic" to "Likely Democratic." Authors of the rating change said Shaheen is unlikely to face a top-tier challenger after former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewendowski dropped out of the race.
"[W]hile establishment Republicans had little interest in Lewandowski running, they don't necessarily have a clear fallback option among the other contenders," they noted.
Another Republican running in the race, Don Bolduc, recently joked about locking his wife in the trunk of his car as a test of her loyalty to him. Bolduc admitted at the time that he had never actually locked his wife in the trunk of a car and recommended against anyone else doing it.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed New Hampshire election predictions to Rasmussen Reports. It has been changed to correctly attribute the analysis to Sabato's Crystal Ball.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.